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Amazon sorta capitulates, will let publishers decide text-to-speech availability

Ross Miller

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While affirming its stance on the legality of Kindle 2's text-to-speech feature -- and in fact stating it'll actually get more customers interested in buying audiobooks -- Amazon's announced that it'll now let the books' rights holders decide on a title-by-title basis whether or not they'll let TTS be enabled. No word on when the update'll be fed to the devices, but we bet somewhere right now, Paul Aiken's cracking a tiny smile. Full release after the break.

Statement from Regarding Kindle 2's Experimental Text-to-Speech Feature

SEATTLE, Feb 27, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Kindle 2's experimental text-to-speech feature is legal: no copy is made, no derivative work is created, and no performance is being given. Furthermore, we ourselves are a major participant in the professionally narrated audiobooks business through our subsidiaries Audible and Brilliance. We believe text-to-speech will introduce new customers to the convenience of listening to books and thereby grow the professionally narrated audiobooks business.

Nevertheless, we strongly believe many rightsholders will be more comfortable with the text-to-speech feature if they are in the driver's seat.

Therefore, we are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice. With this new level of control, publishers and authors will be able to decide for themselves whether it is in their commercial interests to leave text-to-speech enabled. We believe many will decide that it is.

Customers tell us that with Kindle, they read more, and buy more books. We are passionate about bringing the benefits of modern technology to long-form reading.

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